Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Italy fight haka with their very own rugby tenor

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How about this for a job swap. Former Italy rugby international Denis Dallan will sing the national anthem before the Azzurri’s test with New Zealand at Milan’s San Siro on Saturday.

Dallan, who picked up 42 caps between 1999 and 2007, fancies himself as a tenor and will boom out what has to be one of the world’s most upbeat national anthems to 80,000 people.

It’s the biggest rugby crowd ever in Italy and the beefy 31-year-old is up against the angelic Elizabeth Marvelly singing the New Zealand song before the All Blacks do their haka.

Don’t get nervous Denis. Next stop, La Scala.

PHOTO: Italy’s left wing Denis Dallan (L) is tackled by Geordan Murphy of Ireland during their Six Nations match at the Flaminio Stadium in Rome February 22, 2003. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito

Vlog – U.S. lose Fed Cup as Serena stays away

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Italy clinched their second Fed Cup final with a 4-0 victory over the United States on Sunday.

The U.S. were hampered by Serena and Venus Williams opting not to compete. But as Mark Meadows discusses above, would it be better for America if the pair definitively ended their Fed Cup careers?

Soccer trumps rugby in Florence

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It had long been decided that Italy’s rugby team would host world champions South Africa in Florence on Saturday Nov. 21.

Then soccer got in the way. Fiorentina, who use Florence’s only big stadium the Stadio Franchi, were due to play Parma at home on the 22nd but when they were drawn to play at home on Tuesday Nov. 24 against Olympique Lyon in the Champions League, the Parma game was moved to the 21st.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

In defence of Giuseppe Rossi

American soccer fans aren't noted for their nastiness but the reaction to Giuseppe Rossi, New Jersey native, scoring twice for Italy against the U.S in their 3-1 Confederations Cup defeat on Monday has been surprisingly vitriolic.

What has upset U.S fans is that Rossi was born and bred in the U.S. but chose to play for another country and then -- to add insult to injury -- celebrated when he scored twice against his country of birth.

Is Italy’s rugby trip south the ultimate tour too far?

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The ‘tour too far’ cliché is often wheeled out by rugby pundits when an outgunned northern hemisphere side travels south to take on Tri-Nations powers.

But it seems especially appropriate this year after the International Rugby Board (IRB) cooked up the ultimate mismatched series by handing Italy tests against Australia in Canberra and Melbourne on June 13 and 20 and a meeting with New Zealand in Christchurch on June 27.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

The luck of the Irish continues

It may prove difficult to switch a nation’s sporting focus from rugby to football, especially one that is basking in the glory of a first rugby grand slam in 61 years, but a wave of good fortune is boosting hopes of Ireland featuring at the World Cup finals in South Africa next year.

Guided by the mercurial talents of Italian Giovanni Trapattoni, the Irish have made a solid, undefeated start to a tricky qualifying group containing World champions Italy, Dimitar Berbatov’s Bulgaria, Cyprus - who beat them 5-2 in Euro 2008 qualifying - and a skilful Montenegro.

Who should captain the Lions in South Africa?

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The Six Nations provided a stirring finale and a lifetime of memories for Ireland fans but few watching from South Africa will have been left quaking in their boots ahead of this year’s British and Irish Lions tour.

That is exactly how wily Lions coach Ian McGeechan will want it as he plots a repeat of 1997 when his unfancied group triumphed there in the first Lions tour of the professional era.

You can beat Europe’s top teams but you can’t beat the Six Nations

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odriscolSouthern hemisphere fans might scoff at the quality of Europe’s premier rugby competition but, yet again, the Six Nations championship has proved itself unrivalled when it comes to unpredictability and excitement.

Having waited 61 years for their second grand slam, Ireland were within seconds of having it cruelly ripped from their grasp, only for Stephen Jones’s last-minute penalty to fall short in Saturday’s nail-gnawingly tense Cardiff finale.

Alternative picture of the week

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Whoops. We meant to load this on Friday but it is such a good shot, we thought it wasn’t too late.

Here’s Sports Pictures Editor Greg Bos: “Swiss staff photographer Pascal Lauener captures the moment perfectly when an Italian skiier takes a tumble during the men’s giant slalom in Are, Sweden. Pascal was covering the finish line arrivals when he shot this image a bit further up the course.”

Is baseball finally a world sport?

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The Italians are quite excited about their team doing well at the World Baseball Classic.

They pulled off another European shock on Monday, eliminating a Canada side with Major League players to remain on course for a spot in the second round.

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